Thursday, January 03, 2008

Don't Let Rejection Get You Down

I hope it does give people hope. It's very hard to get published and it's hard if you go in there with this burning ambition. I didn't have that, I was protected by my natural pessimism.
Catherine O'Flynn wins this years Costa first novel award for What Was Lost - am account of ghostly goings on in a shopping mall.

(Plan to write about it in a day or two since I've almost finished it ... it's one of the books on my currently-reading pile which has been shoved aside for the you-have-to-read-this- so-you-can write-a-review-or-do an-interview-books. My reading life is complicated! )

Dalya Alberge in the Times reports that O'Flynn weathered rejections from 20 (or is it 14 as the Guardian says ... anyway, an awful lot of) agents before her novel was accepted before it was picked up by Birmingham based small press Tyndall Street Press (whose other publishing success was of course Clare Morrall's Astonishing Splashes of Colour). O'Flynn has worked as a postwoman, in an HMV music store, as a teacher and, briefly, as a mystery shopper.

The judges, which included novelist Joanna Trollope called O'Flynn's novel:
... an extraordinary book ... a formidable novel blending humour and pathos in a cleverly constructed and absorbing mystery.
It also made the Booker longlist last year, you will remember.

The best novel award goes to A.L.Kennedy's Day, a novel which (as again you will remember if you've been paying attention to my blog) made several "best books of 2007 lists". The judges described it as:
... a masterpiece ...
and book makers William Hill announced 2-1 odds on it winning the main prize, to be announced on 22 January.

The winners in the other categories are:
Biography - Simon Sebag Montefiore for Young Stalin
Poetry - Jean Sprackland for Tilt
Children - Ann Kelley for The Bower Bird
The Times includes a disturbing aside about book sales in the UK:
Of 200,000 books sold last year, 190,000 sold fewer than 3,500 copies. More damning still, of 85,933 new books published, as many as 58,325 sold an average of just 18 copies.
Food for thought: the best selling Malaysian titles, in comparison, have done very well indeed.

Further food for thought: if you want to write, don't give up the day job!

Even further food for thought: if at first your manuscript gets rejected, keep on going! (Although you may want to take this advice to heart!)

The Costa website is here but news of the 2008 shortlist is not up yet.

22 comments:

k said...

what's a mystery shopper?

thanks for the optimistic start to my morning!

kamal s said...

Dear K (and others),

A mystery shopper is an individual appointed by a retail company to disguise as a customer, in order to check the service offered or given by its staff; this will influence a sales personnel's increment or promotion. A mystery shopper is encouraged to be as difficult or b****y as you can.

I used to work part-time with a renowned cosmetic company. Most mystery shoppers think they are Diana Ross, only with bad English.

k said...

encouraged and PAID to be b****y???
now THAT's a job!

thanks Kamal.

bibliobibuli said...

i would be a natural at it, espceially in bookshops. (although i can never go incognito now! "of course i know your name" said one customer service assistant taking down an order "my boss forces me to read your blog every morning")

Anonymous said...

"Force me to read your blog" hahaha! You should be ultra bitchy and say, "Darling, you should do it gladly and eagerly without being forced to!"

Madcap Machinist said...

What's wrong with simply writing "bitchy"? You have the right word, just use it.

Pet peeve...

bibliobibuli said...

agree, machinist. it's a perfectly ok word and i don't know why people here seem to feel is a taboo to use it.

to call someone "a bitch" is more socially acceptable in the UK than the US though, i think

Madcap Machinist said...

as is calling someone a right bastard!

kamal s said...

Yo, madcap!

I'm just being polite. That's all.

Since you asked, here's the full caption - bitchy!

Can't do the same thing in Kino.....I'm famous there, as well (for mostly wrong reasons).

Madcap Machinist said...

Kamal:

"Can't do the same thing in Kino.....I'm famous there, as well (for mostly wrong reasons)."

Wot, you've done a 'Cecelia & Robbie' there too?

bibliobibuli said...

kamal - you seem a very well brought up young man. do tell what you've done to upset kino staff. ( i once nearly got thrown out for taking photos of "my" book)

k said...

noted. sorry to peeve you :)

bibliobibuli said...

you're not peeving me. i'm teasing you. sorry you can't see the grin from there.

Madcap Machinist said...

I believe K was addressing me.

No need to apologise guys, querulousness shouldn't be entertained ;-)

kamal s said...

Well, let's just say I'm a VERY FUSSY customer. I mean, reallllllllllllll fussy. I love to buy books in excellent conditions, and I will bug and return and exchange them if my standards are not met right after I made my purchase. Only Kino and Times can stand me (so far). Borders turned its back on me, so vow never to but a book from 'em ever again. I mean, customer is always right, right? My experience in retail taught me so. Do you know at one time a famous person told me straight to my face that she refused to buy some products from me, simply because she hated my face? Go figure!

kamal s said...

Madcap,

Cecilia and Robbie? I wish! You did THAT? In Kino?

bibliobibuli said...

Cecilia and Robbie? i'm sorry, i'm missing a culture reference here. chuck a meme or two my way would you machinist?

kamal - that's so unbeleivably horrible of the famous person. i'm sure you have a lovely face.

kamal s said...

Maybe Madcap was referring to an infamous scene between Cecilia and Robbie from "Atonement", you know, the one they did in the library shortly Robbie was accused for a horrendous crime he didn't commit.

Ghee, thanks for boosting my self-esteem this morning!

bibliobibuli said...

ohhh ... wouldn't put that past machinist

Madcap Machinist said...

oh yes, romps in libraries are fun!

Anonymous said...

But you're supposed to be silent, I mean how can you, you don't want a librarian to suddenly poke his/her head in and say "Shh !" do you ? totally ruins the moment. :P

Anonymous said...

Don't see why they're complaining though.. imagine if a book sold 3500 copies in the UK. At say 10pds a book, 3500 copies means a gross profit of 35,000 pds. Say cost of production is 50% (it's probably way lower than that) so that leaves you with a net of 17,500 pds. Standard commission is maybe 10% so that leaves you with 1750 pds. 1750 pds is Rm11,750 -- not a bad haul for one book :)